Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

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Ben C. Smith
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Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:38 pm

Enoch, according to scripture and tradition, did not die:

Genesis 5.24: 24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, because God took him up / because God translated him [כִּי־לָקַח אֹתוֹ אֱלֹהִים, ὅτι μετέθηκεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεός].

Wisdom of Solomon 4.10: 10 There was one who pleased God and was loved by him, and while living among sinners he was translated [μετετέθη].

Wisdom of Sirach 44.16: 16 Enoch pleased the Lord, and was taken up / and was translated [וְנִלְקָח, καὶ μετετέθη]; he was an example of repentance to all generations.

Jubilees 4.23: 23 Enoch was snatched away [ἡρπᾶσθαι] to Paradise.

Hebrews 11.5: 5 By faith Enoch was translated [μετετέθη] so that he would not see death; and he was not found, because God translated [μετέθηκεν] him; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.

1 Clement 9.3: 3 Let us take Enoch, who, being found righteous in obedience, was translated [μετετέθη], and death was never known to happen to him.

For the Hebrew לָקַח ("took up") the LXX has μετέθηκεν ("translated" or the like) while the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach, Hebrews, and 1 Clement bear a different conjugation, μετετέθη, of the same word. Jubilees goes its own way. However, there is another Greek word which more commonly translates the Hebrew לָקַח, and that is some form of λαμβάνω, including (especially for my purpose here) ἀναλαμβάνω. The following is a representative example:

Genesis 24.61: 61 Then Rebekah arose with her maids, and they mounted the camels and followed the man. And the servant took [וַיִּקַּח, καὶ ἀναλαβὼν] Rebekah and departed.

Refer also to Genesis 46.6; 48.1; Exodus 4.20; Psalm 78.70 (77.70 OG); Ezekiel 16.61; Hosea 11.3; Amos 7.15.

But there are even more relevant parallels to hand, as well:

2 Kings 2.9-10: 9 When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken up [אֶלָּקַח, ἀναλημφθῆναί] from you." And Elisha said, "Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." 10 He said, "You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken up [לֻקָּח, ἀναλαμβανόμενον] from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so." 11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up / was taken up [יַּעַל, ἀνελήμφθη] by a whirlwind to heaven.

Ezekiel 3.14: 14 So the Spirit lifted me up and took me up [וַתִּקָּחֵנִי, καὶ ἀνέλαβέν με]; and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of Yahweh was strong on me.

Ezekiel 8.3: 3 He stretched out the form of a hand and took me up [וַיִּקָּחֵנִי, καὶ ἀνέλαβέν με] by a lock of my head; and the Spirit took me up [ἀνέλαβέν με] between earth and heaven and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the idol of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy.

1 Enoch 12.1: 1 Before these things, Enoch was taken [Panopolitanus: ἐλήμφθη, from the noncompounded λαμβάνω], and no one of the humans knew where he was taken and where he is and what had become of him. Refer also to 1 Enoch 70.1-4: 1 And it came to pass after this that during his lifetime the name of that Son of Man was raised aloft to the Lord of Spirits from amongst those who dwell on the earth. 2 And he was raised aloft on the chariots of the spirit and his name vanished among them. 3 "And from that day I was no longer numbered amongst them; and he set me between the two winds, between the North and the West, where the angels took the cords to measure for me the place for the elect and righteous. 4 And there I saw the first fathers and the righteous who from the beginning dwell in that place."

Wisdom of Sirach 48.4, 9: 4 How glorious you were, O Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! And who has the right to boast which you have? .... 9 You who were taken up [ἀναλημφθεὶς] by a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with horses of fire....

1 Maccabees 2.58: 58 Elijah because of great zeal for the law was taken up [ἀνελήμφθη] into heaven.

Revelation 11.12: 12 And they (= the two witnesses, of the nature of Moses and Elijah) heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." Then they ascended [ἀνέβησαν] into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.

Apocalypse of Elijah B 1.2b: 2b After these things both Elijah and Enoch will descend [καταβήσονται]. They will put off the flesh of the world and put on the flesh of the Spirit. They will pursue the son of lawlessness....

Notice the thematic overlap between Enoch and Elijah in the Parables of Enoch (1 Enoch 70.1-4 above): Elijah is taken up by a chariot of fire, while Enoch is taken up by chariots of the spirit, betokening a sort of merkabah mysticism. And notice that the Greek of 1 Enoch 12.1 uses a form of λαμβάνω to describe Enoch's ascension. Moses, too, was thought in some circles to have vanished instead of dying:

Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.48 §324-326: 324 Whereupon they thought they ought to grant him that favor, to let him depart according as he himself desired; so they restrained themselves, though weeping still towards one another. All those who accompanied him were the senate, and Eleazar the high priest, and Joshua their commander. 325 Now as soon as they were come to the mountain called Abarim, which is a very high mountain situate over against Jericho, and one that affords to such as are upon it a prospect of the greatest part of the excellent land of Canaan, he dismissed the senate; 326 and as he was going to embrace Eleazar and Joshua, and was still discoursing with them, a cloud stood over him on the sudden, and he disappeared in a certain valley, although he wrote in the holy books that he died, which was done out of fear, lest they should venture to say that, because of his extraordinary virtue, he went to God. / 324 οἱ δὲ καὶ τοῦτ᾽ αὐτῷ χαρίζεσθαι κρίνοντες τὸ κατὰ βούλησιν ἀπελθεῖν αὐτῷ τὴν ἰδίαν ἐφεῖναι κατέχουσιν ἑαυτοὺς ἐν ἀλλήλοις δακρύοντες. μόνη δ᾽ ἡ γερουσία προύπεμψεν αὐτὸν καὶ ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς Ἐλεάζαρος καὶ ὁ στρατηγὸς Ἰησοῦς. 325 ὡς δ᾽ ἐπὶ τῷ ὄρει τῷ Ἀβαρεῖ καλουμένῳ ἐγένετο, τοῦτο δὲ ὑψηλὸν Ἱεριχοῦντος ἀντικρὺ κεῖται γῆν ἀρίστην τῶν Χαναναίων καὶ πλείστην παρέχον τοῖς ἐπ᾽ αὐτοῦ κατοπτεύειν, ἀπέπεμπε τὴν γερουσίαν. 326 ἀσπαζομένου δὲ καὶ τὸν Ἐλεάζαρον αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ προσομιλοῦντος ἔτι, νέφους αἰφνίδιον ὑπὲρ αὐτὸν στάντος ἀφανίζεται κατά τινος φάραγγος. γέγραφε δ᾽ αὑτὸν ἐν ταῖς ἱεραῖς βίβλοις τεθνεῶτα, δείσας μὴ δι᾽ ὑπερβολὴν τῆς περὶ αὐτὸν ἀρετῆς πρὸς τὸ θεῖον αὐτὸν ἀναχωρῆσαι τολμήσωσιν εἰπεῖν.

The potential significance of these parallels is that the gospel of Peter uses the Greek term ἀναλαμβάνω to describe what happens to the Lord on the cross:

Peter 5.19: 19 And the Lord shouted out, saying, "My power, O power, you have forsaken me!" And having said this he was taken up [ἀνελήφθη].

Is it possible that this verse preserves a relic of an earlier story line, one which ended with Jesus actually being taken straight up from the cross? No resurrection, just exaltation (much as we find in Philippians 2.9-11). The addition of the resurrection would have required the addition of the empty tomb story, but now there was a conflict. Jesus cannot be taken up into heaven from the cross and simultaneously be brought down to the earth from the cross to be buried; so the story diverged.

The canonical gospels make the spirit depart Jesus on the cross but the body remain to be buried:

Matthew 27.50: 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His/the spirit [ἀφῆκεν τὸ πνεῦμα].

Mark 15.37: 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last [ἐξέπνευσεν, "spirited out"].

Luke 23.46: 46 And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last [ἐξέπνευσεν, "spirited out"].

Luke preserves perhaps another relic of the earlier story, as well:

Luke 23.42: 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

The entire motif of separation can be viewed as a reconciling of the one tradition, that Jesus was taken straight up into heaven from the cross, with the other tradition, that Jesus was brought down onto the earth to be buried and then raised again.

What do you think? Did some very early Christians think that Jesus, like Enoch and Elijah (and Moses), was taken straight up into heaven? Furthermore, could one of those very early Christians have been Cephas/Peter? I have commented before on the potential connections between Petrine Christianity and Enochic Judaism. Could Peter have thought of Jesus as having been crucified, but also as having been rescued from the cross by God himself?

Ben.
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Re: Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:52 pm

All I know is there are two Hebrew ways of saying something disappeared:

אינו He is not there.
ואין לו He disappears, he has disappeared.

The first expression is used of Enoch. “He walked with the angels (ha-Elohim). And he was not (he was not there any more); for God (Elohim) took him (had taken him)”. In Biblical Hebrew ואיננו (ve-enénnu) is the equivalent of ואינו (ve-enó).
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:50 pm

A Samaritan tradition that the Ta'eb was Enoch - https://books.google.com/books?id=F5Y3A ... 10&f=false
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:05 pm


Is it possible that this verse preserves a relic of an earlier story line, one which ended with Jesus actually being taken straight up from the cross? No resurrection, just exaltation (much as we find in Philippians 2.9-11).
this would resemble the view of who thinks that the Transfiguration episode happens in the first gospel just when the Last Supper ends. It was in the same time a Transfiguration, a Crucifixion and an Ascension.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:17 pm

In this view (post above) he original mountain was the Mount of Olives and not the Golghota. The three Pillars were who saw the event and not the pious women. And the killers were the soldiers lead by Judas and not the Romans of Pilate. The original two thieves were Moses and Elijah with Jesus in their middle.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:20 pm

And naturally, the voice from heaven proclaiming the victory of Jesus on Moses and Elijah (and Judah?) was replaced by the Jesus's cry of defeat on the Roman cross.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:30 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:05 pm

Is it possible that this verse preserves a relic of an earlier story line, one which ended with Jesus actually being taken straight up from the cross? No resurrection, just exaltation (much as we find in Philippians 2.9-11).
this would resemble the view of who thinks that the Transfiguration episode happens in the first gospel just when the Last Supper ends. It was in the same time a Transfiguration, a Crucifixion and an Ascension.
Not sure about placing it immediately after the Last Supper, but I tend to think of the Transfiguration as an appearance of the (risen or exalted) Lord which has been moved back into the ministry just like the miraculous catch of fish was.
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Re: Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:31 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:50 pm
A Samaritan tradition that the Ta'eb was Enoch - https://books.google.com/books?id=F5Y3A ... 10&f=false
That is quite interesting....
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Re: Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Apr 10, 2020 9:03 pm

Only a criticism against these parallelisms, Ben.

You quotes from Enoch et similia talk about the ascension of the entire body of the hero, not precisely about a separation between a human recipient (left to die) and the spiritual soul (ascended in extremis).

To my knowledge, an explicit reference to the separation idea connected with the idea of crucifixion is given by Ireneus in reference to the Valentian belief, made even more explicit by GPhilip.

There would be another explanation based on Daniel (Joseph D.L. talked about it) but you should recognize that is implicit, differently from the Valentinian belief.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Was Jesus taken up like Enoch?

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Apr 10, 2020 9:14 pm

In addition to my criticism above, you talk about the separationism as a harmonization and hence, by definition, not precisely as the idea of the Earliest Gospel:
The entire motif of separation can be viewed as a reconciling of the one tradition, that Jesus was taken straight up into heaven from the cross, with the other tradition, that Jesus was brought down onto the earth to be buried and then raised again.
(my bold)

Frankly, we have no earliest evidence of the ascension of the entire body of Jesus during the crucifixion. Celsus witnesses the absence of the idea and he profits to criticize Christians just in virtue of that absence.

We have the Separationist idea in Mark, both in the Gospel text and in the Ireneus's reference to Separationists as readers of Mark.

My point is that the default position has to be that the Separationist crucifixion is the oldest idea, unless you give more strong evidence about the ascension of the entire body as earliest idea.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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